Métis and First Nations people living in the Ktunaxa territory may be gaining access to health care services.
The Ktunaxa Nation and the Métis Nation British Columbia signed a Health Protocol Agreement on Monday, August 31st, demanding increased planning and access to services for the First Nations communities.
“We are proud to sign this document with the Métis today,” said Debbie Whitehead, Ktunaxa Nation Council social sector director. “This agreement will ensure that any and all health services, from the planning stage to the provisioning stage, will include input from Métis and all Aboriginal people in Ktunaxa territory.”
Whitehead signed the agreement with Métis Nation British Columbia regional director for the Kootenays Marilynn Taylor, Social Investment Sector Council chair Codie Morigeau, Metis Nation British Columbia Minister responsible for Health, Vice-President Annette Maurice at the Ktunaxa Nation Government Building.
“I believe that by making our planning processes as inclusive as possible, this inclusiveness will be reflected through better health outcomes for Métis, Ktunaxa and all Aboriginal people,” concluded Whitehead.
The purpose of the Health Services Letter of Understanding between the Ktunaxa and Metis Nation aims to broaden the relationship by ensuring programs and services are funded through Interior Health Authority (IHA).
“Collaboratively, they will make recommendations to IHA that will improve IHA’s service/program delivery, access, evaluation etc. The Nations will also work together to create wellness plans with outcome targets,” wrote regional social governance co-ordinator Melanie Gould by email. “Through this working relationship, the two Nations want to ensure IHA is positively contributing to improved health outcomes for all Aboriginal people in the territory.”
Ms. Gould added the goal is to close gaps in health care by working together to improve results for First Nation families and to set up a working committee to get started.
The Columbia Valley Métis Association president Debra Fisher was eager to find out the details of the new Health Protocol Agreement and pleased to see the Métis community would be included in the plans.
“It’s Métis Nation BC so we would be included,” she confirmed on Wednesday, September 2nd.
Whitehead remains optimistic the Health Protocol Agreement would be beneficial for everyone.
“The health and well-being of all Aboriginal people, not just Ktunaxa people, who reside in Ktunaxa territory, is a top priority of the Ktunaxa Nation,” Ms. Whitehead said by email. “This signing of this document affirms our commitment to ensuring that all voices are heard and counted in any health-related programming.”
But the demands of building a relationship together do not end there.
“The Ktunaxa Nation has a long and productive relationship with the Métis Nation British Columbia,” said Ms. Whitehead by email. “I am pleased that we can continue to work together on something so important as the health of our citizens.”